LINK Jewelry Summit

Day One (Tuesday 23) opened with a surprise session from the blind visual artist Pete Eckert, who deconstructed the idea of visualisation and perception.

A formal welcome was delivered by Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, Publisher from the International Herald Tribune, and Markus Langes-Swarovski, from the Executive Board of Swarovski. “The jewelry sector is a passionate one, although perhaps not quite as well represented as other luxury sectors such as fashion”, said Langes-Swarovski. “This is the reason that we really felt the need for a Summit of this kind, so that global industry leaders can come together to interconnect and to exchange ideas”.

Acting as Chair for the Summit was Katharina Flohr, Managing and Creative Director of Fabergé. “We hope that you will gain the knowledge to move your business forward,” said Flohr in her opening remarks. “This Summit is an opportunity for us all to unite and ignite creative and business thinking”.

After the opening remarks, delegates were treated to a fascinating insight into the history and psychology of human adornment from Lois Sherr Dubin, Board Member of the George Gustav Heye Centre, Smithsonian Institute. From Palaeolithic shell beads to the modern wedding ring, Sherr Dubin also championed the work of modern American Indian jewelers and directed the audience to appreciate the humanity of jewelry.

From ancient times to modern, the convergence of fashion and fine jewelry was represented by Delfina Delettrez Fendi, Founder of Delfina Delettrez jewelry, who was in conversation with Nadja Swarovski, Member of the Swarovski Executive Board.

Consumer insight came to the fore in a lively discussion between Anne Martin-Vachon, Chief Merchandising Officer of HSN. Inc, Rita Clifton, Branding Expert and Board Chair of Populus and Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman of Ogilvy UK. Throughout the discussion, a dominant theme emerged of display and merchandising practices in retail, and a strong message was sent to retailers about the need to rejuvenate and innovate in this field.

The integration of social media in retail and the rise of social commerce was discussed by blogging legend Susanna Lau from Style Bubble and CEO and Co-Founder of Lyst, Chris Morton. In-keeping with the global scope of the Summit, retail issues from markets around the world were discussed in a panel featuring representatives from China, Dubai and India, including how consumer tastes differ by region. Group Chief Executive Officer of Harvey Nichols, Joseph Wan, discussed the issues of global expansion and the transition to online in a session focussing on how brands can create retail magic. .

The theme of 'think global, act local' emerged in these international sessions, as did the need for adaptability: “Adaptation is the key for financial success in new markets. It just has to be done suitably and appropriately and without diluting the overall brand experience,” said Wan.

Next was a look ahead to the industry in 2020, from Thomas Tochtermann, Director, Leader of Apparel Fashion & Luxury Group at McKinsey & Company, providing a wealth of valuable predictive models based on lessons learned from the apparel industry in the 1990s.

Day One closed with an illuminating round-table discussion, hosted by JCK editor Victoria Gomelsky, which addressed the unpredictable trading environment, the key to survival and the future of jewelry. Again, the “think global, act local” message dominated, as expressed by Massimo Carraro, Chairman and CEO of Morellato: “We're the Italian market leader in fashion jewelry,” stated Carraro, “With a strong design heritage. When you go to China or Russia, you need to be global enough to catch the new consumer tastes, without diluting the brand heritage.”

In the evening, delegates and speakers attended a grandiose Gala Dinner at the Palais Liechtenstein.

After a recap of proceedings from day one, delegates on Wednesday were treated to a session that brought together two of America’s leading tastemakers and arbiters of style. Businesswoman and style icon Iris Apfel, and President and Creative Director of kate spade new york, Deborah Lloyd came together to reflect on the secret to living colourfully. In a session chaired by Nadja Swarovski, Lloyd and Apfel delved deep to talk about the constraints and evolutions of style and creativity. Apfel was a very engaging speaker who provided much for the audience to think about, including reminding them that “Trends are good for business, but people shouldn’t get involved. Just because something is in, that doesn’t mean it will look good on you!”

Next up was Colin Welch, President and COO of Financo to talk about why investors make the decisions they do when it comes to putting money behind jewelry houses and brands. Welch delivered key insights into how the next five years of the market might look in terms of consolidation and mergers and acquisitions.

After a quick break for refreshment, it was time for Haysun Hahn, Founder of Fast Forward Trending, and Cher Potter, Editor and Futurist at WGSN to join Giles Last, Senior Lecturer at Central Saint Martins and Emre Dilaver, Creative Director at Sevan Bıçakçı to deliver a fascinating insight into the evolution of fashion jewelry. One of the key themes addressed in the session was how the rise of ecommerce and mcommerce platforms are boosting sales in this end of the sector to new heights.

Last but by no means least on the speaker line up was David Mayer de Rothschild, Founder of Sculpt the Future Foundation, who led an invigorating panel discussion the issue of sustainability. Joined by Claus Teilmann Petersen, Vice President and Group CSR of Pandora, Greg Valerio, Co-Founder of the Fair Jewellery Action and Bernhard Pleschko, Executive Vice President of Supply Chain Management for the Swarovski Consumer Goods Business, the session explored the issues that producers of jewelry face in an increasingly eco-conscious world. The thorny issue of fair trade gold was tackled alongside wider issues regarding the transparency of the supply chain and the costs associated with it.

Rounding off proceedings at the conference, and a real highlight for anyone interested in learning, was Richard Saul Wurman, architect, designer and TED founder, who delivered a friendly and critical appraisal of the packed two-day agenda in his famously off-the-wall style.

Speaking after the event, Flohr commented “I found chairing this event awe inspiring. To get so many people from such diverse backgrounds together to speak on behalf of the jewelry sector has been fantastic. The level of engagement that they brought and their contribution towards something we can all be inspired and learn from is extraordinary”.

“It’s a confusing time for the jewelry industry—the mass evolution in digital media and blogs and the infiltration of influence from the younger generation mean that we are now seeing a whole new type of consumer come through. There was a real gap in the market for this type of event for the industry. I really feel that at this event we all thought outside of the box, and I hope that everyone that attended feels that they have learned a lot.”

For further information visit WWW.LINKJEWELRYSUMMIT.COM.